Retail holidays we’d like to see

By Gordon Hecht, YSN Contributor

I hope you didn’t let last Sunday pass by without recognizing the moms, brides, aunts, and grandmas in your world.

In case you hadn’t heard, it was Mother’s Day, a time to reflect on all the joy that moms everywhere bring to our lives.

The pressure is off a bit next month for Father’s Day.  While our parental sentiments may be equally divided, most dads get short shrift on the amount of gift spend. In the U.S. we spend a hefty $186 on average on a Mother’s Day gift, vs. $135 on dear old dad.

Holidays are a great time to recognize special occasions in history or people in our lives. Me and my ever-lovin’ bride tend to pass on the “Hallmark holidays” like Sweetest Day, Administrative Assistant Day and Bosses Day. It seems those were designed in the interest of selling greeting cards, plastic trinkets, and helium inflatables.

Every year federal, state, and local governments also recognize special days for some downright silly things. Last Monday was National Lost Sock Memorial Day. In June you may try to chuck a sickie to celebrate Upsy Daisy Day or Ball Point Pen Day.  Or you can lick off the autumnal equinox with Talk Like a Pirate Day. Argggh!

We of the Retail World don’t have a lot of pull with Congress. If we ever get to the point of influence, I hope you will back me up with requesting the following Retail Holidays:

Real Discount Day: Advertised discounts have been out of control for years.  Ten Percent was good, so we upped it to 20%, then 30%, and I’ve even seen claimed discounts of 70% off. The big question is off what? No business can exist discounting huge percentages off legitimate retail mark-ups. Let’s celebrate by pricing realistically where a special sale is really special.

Shopper Transparency Day: Our customers are a peculiar lot. They go to their favorite restaurant and tell the server what they want.  They make a medical appointment to tell the doctor where they hurt. But then they visit our store and conceal their actual needs and wants when we try to solve their product issue.

Wouldn’t you support one day a year when people tell us how they want our products to solve their pain, and reveal a reasonable budget to obtain those solutions?

Switch Shoes Day: I’m not willing to trade my Size 13 Adidas tennies for your Size 6 Prada Spazzolato Logo Leather Loafers. But we do need a day where people could switch job roles in order to, as they say, walk a mile in their shoes. 

While operations people need to understand the urgency of squeezing one more delivery on a packed truck, retail sales associates should feel the squeeze that deep price discounting has on an accounting department trying to ensure that there’s enough dough in the bank to make payroll.

Business leaders from senior managers to CEOs could spend a day doing the dirty fingernail in the trenches of our businesses and new associates would understand the C-suite pressure of keeping all the dominoes standing while making policy decisions.

Make Somebody’s Day, Day: The economy has not been our friend in 2022. But it’s been even worse to many people in your community. Between prices at the pump and the cash register at Wally World, many of your shoppers are facing too many days left in the month at the end of the money.

You can invest in their happiness and peace of mind. Make the decision every once in a while to go short margin when providing a product. Treat that $299 shopper like they are a $2,999 shopper and find something that will delight them at a true bargain price, even if you’re only making 20 bucks on it.

Here’s what will happen: You will build their pride and they will tell their friends. You will also feel great in the short run and get more incoming shoppers in the long run.

I Caught You Day: There was a time in retail when businesses improved via “management by walking around.”  The idea was to lead by observing ground-level practices and catch people doing something right. The immediate positive reinforcement caused repetition of the practices and a better experience for everyone.

Why not pick a day to stuff a few twenties in your pocket and walk around your retail empire? Don’t just comment on average results but look for the great stuff your team members are doing because of their passion for your business.  Slide them one of those double sawbucks along with some kind words like, “I caught you doing something right,” and a pat on the back.  Chances are good you’ve fired up their passion and loyalty more than 20 degrees.

You’ll probably never find a cutesy greeting card or plastic tchotchke to commemorate these special retail days. But you don’t have to wait for an act of Congress to make them part of your retail calendar. 

Gordon Hecht is a business growth and development consultant to the retail home furnishings industry and a regular contributor to YourSource. You can reach him at Gordon.Hecht@aol.com.